My story begins in September 2015. During a routine doctor’s visit, my physician informed me that I was officially considered obese. He told me that I had to make changes to my diet and begin some sort of physical activity program if I wanted to turn my life around. Not only was I overweight, but I had high blood pressure, cholesterol, and a greater change of getting diabetes.
I set out to lose 20lbs by the next time I saw him, which was 3 months away. I immediately adjusted my diet by removing soda, which has always been one of my biggest vices. I joined my local gym and began to work out. It was when I went to the 161st Street Track to jog that I began to like cardio. For some reason, jogging didn't feel like a chore to me. I knew I was onto something.
When I first started, I couldn’t complete one lap around the track with out walking, but I enjoyed the activity, so I paced myself by doing a run/walk program. During these runs, I became one with myself. It was ME time. Life responsibilities came to a halt while I ran. I wasn’t a husband, a father, an employee and there were no issues in the forefront of my mind. And I enjoyed that.
Mile 21 Fuel Station
Thanks to my new love for running, I decided to volunteer at the NYC Marathon. It was also my first time witnessing a marathon. At my designated volunteer location, I saw a bunch of really happy, animated people with "Harlem Run" t-shirts on. I was astonished to know that there was a group of people like this who were passionate about running in my own neighborhood!
During the race, I saw Alison run by and the entire Harlem Run group went wild. At first, I thought it was Alicia Keys, but I soon realized that this woman was someone very important to the group. Wanting to know more, I approached one of the group's loudest and most energetic members: a Hispanic man with wild hair, who I later learned was none other than Sean. I asked him one of the most important questions in my Quest to Lose Weight... “What is HARLEM RUN???" His warmth and excitement as he told me about the group encouraged me to come out the following Monday.
Monday Night, November 2, 2016
After witnessing the magic at the Mile 21 Cheer/Volunteer Station, I knew that I wanted to attend, but I must admit, I was a bit nervous. As I sat in my car, my negative mind was thinking: “You run too slow. You don’t have the stamina to run that many miles. You'll fall behind.” I shook those feelings off and walked over to Harlem Shake, but to my surprise, no one was there! I called my wife and she told me to drive to the track instead of just coming home and feeling defeated. I agreed, but I didn’t want to do what I usually did. It was time for a change. I wanted to run with other people.
I got in my car and drove north on Lenox Ave. Almost immediately, I saw a group running down Lenox with bright colored T-shirts with “HR” painted across the front. Then I saw the same guy that invited me running with no shirt. I was thinking to myself does this guy not know its November?! He must be crazy, lol. I quickly parked, sprinted to catch up with them, and eventually caught up at a red light. One of the runners approached me and asked me if I was running with the group. He introduced himself as Logan and said he was the back pacer for the sexy pace. Sexy pace?? I never heard of a pace, let alone a sexy pace. I thought to myself I don’t want to be sexy I just want to run!
Although the run was exhausting for me, Logan gave me exactly what I needed: an extra nudge, push, and motivation. As we finished the run, I could hear cheering and clapping; saw people high fiving as we approached the studio. From that moment, I was hooked. There was no greater joy than having 100 people cheering and shouting even though I was dead last.
Four months after my journey began, I lost a total of 45lbs- way more than my initial goal! I currently run 3 times a week, box twice a week, and take an intense bootcamp class once a week. I have run 6 races thus far and am training for my first half marathon. All of this would not be possible with HARLEM RUN, which has helped me stay consistent.
Thank you for being there each and every Monday night. I would like to thank all the members of Harlem Run for making me feel welcome from the very first day. And a very special thank you to Sean and Logan...